Be ready for the opportunity
Back in January, Gerrard began shadowing the U16, U18 and U23 coaches at Melwood, the home of Liverpool’s academy, and has worked closely with Academy Director, Alex Inglethorpe, and ‘Mr Klopp’ - as Gerrard respectfully refers to him.
Although Gerrard has already completed the UEFA A Licence, there is a sense of awe when he talks about the complexity of coaching - admitting that there’s much more involved in the role than he was aware of as a player.
“First and foremost it’s very different than playing - especially at the beginning. You have an anxiousness about you, you’re out of your comfort zone and all eyes and responsibility are on you to coach a large group of men - rather than just being one player in a team or a squad,” he explains.
"You realise early on that it is very, very different [to playing] and that there is a lot of learning to do, there are a lot of people to watch, a lot of tips on how people go about it. You need to find your coaching voice - which might be different from being a player.
“I think I’m entering a job role that I don’t think you ever become perfect or finished at. I think it’s going to be a case of always learning: the game evolves, players evolve, systems change, coaches try different things, you come up against different managers and tactics. I think it’s a fascinating job role and you can never stop learning.”
During his 17 years at the highest level of the game Gerrard has been tutored by some of the finest footballing minds in the game all of which are now helping shape his own approach.
“They’ve all been an influence because already in a short space of time I’ve tried to use things that all those managers I’ve played under have used with me: certain sayings, certain coaching points to individual players, certain points as I’m shaping an eleven up,” he explains.
"Rafa Benitez was a fine tactical coach, of course you take a lot from him, then there was [Fabio] Capello at England level and Brendan Rodgers in terms of dominating the ball - so I’m blessed in terms of the experience and knowledge I’ve gained working with those people.
"But the key thing for me is doing it my way and trying to add all the good bits from all those managers to what I’ve already got.”
Reflecting on the thousands of hours spent in coaching sessions as a player, it is the time spent individually with a coach analysing his own performance that Gerrard cherished most.
“I liked one-on-one talks with managers away from the training ground, where I had footage and analysis where I could go through my own game.
“I think it’s key for players to see what they do on a football pitch. I think we’re in a culture where a lot of coaches use Premier League players and world-class players to show the kids different ideas - which is good, which is fine - but I also think it’s important to show them what they do themselves.
“Every player is different, I think there is a risk that players try and emulate and copy a certain player. I think they have to be the player that they are, and learn from the mistakes they’re making in a game in order to improve.”
It’s this type of passionate insight and a willingness to pass opinion that makes Gerrard’s decision to pursue a coaching career such as an intriguing prospect for the game.
In summer 2018, Steven Gerrard was announced as manager of Rangers. Article image courtesy of Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC.